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June 18, 2008

Sections of Catawba, Lynches Rivers designated "Scenic"

The South Carolina General Assembly has designated a 30-mile segment of the Catawba River and a 57-mile segment of the Lynches River as State Scenic Rivers.  The legislation was signed on June 11, 2008, by Governor Mark Sanford.  

For more information on the South Carolina Scenic Rivers Program, call (803) 734-9100 in Columbia or write to: DNR, River Conservation Programs, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202.

The Lynches River between Lee State Park and Lynches River County Park, a section covering approximately 54 miles, was designated a State Scenic River in 1994.  In the summer of 2006, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received several of requests to consider an additional 57 miles of the Lynches River in Florence County for designation. The Lynches Scenic River Advisory Council and DNR staff initiated a study to assess the eligibility of the lower Lynches for State Scenic River designation. This makes the Lynches River the longest state-designated scenic river at 111 miles.

In the summer of 2007, the Nation Ford Land Trust and the Katawba Valley Land Trust each sent requests to the DNR to consider the Catawba River for designation as a State Scenic River. In response, an eligibility study was initiated in October 2007 to assess the Catawba for State Scenic River designation.  The tenth State Scenic River is the 30-mile river segment of the Catawba River from the Lake Wylie Dam in York County downstream to the S.C. Highway 9 Bridge between Chester and Lancaster counties.

 Public meetings were held in January 2008 revealing significant local interest in conserving the unique and outstanding resources of both the Catawba River and the lower section of the Lynches River.  Counties supporting the designation with resolutions of support were Florence County Council for the Lynches River, and York County Council, Lancaster County Council, and Chester County Council for the Catawba River. The Rock Hill City Council also passed a resolution of support for the Catawba designation, and the Town of Johnsonville passed a resolution of support for the lower section of the Lynches River.

Following the signing of the bills, the process of organizing a community-based resource management plan begins.  Through the River Conservation Program, the DNR will form a Scenic River Advisory Council to assist in the management of the river.  The advisory councils are chaired by DNR staff and comprised of people who live in the local community and represent a cross-section of river-related interests.  A majority of the council will be river-bordering landowners.

"The goal of the Scenic Rivers Program is the conservation of South Carolina’s unique and outstanding river resources" said Dr. Barry Beasley, DNR Habitat Protection Section Chief.  "This program provides a means for landowners, local citizens, and community interest groups to come together, identify critical river-related issues, and develop a management plan to help maintain the natural character and beauty of the river for future generations." 

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.

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